June 2012

Russel Baker —
Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.
Berries 790 xxx
strawberry fields forever

6.29.12 Weekend Updates: Hot Links

I know where I'll be for at least part of this weekend: up to my elbows in fruit from Trapani Farms! With berries flooding the markets, this is the time of year for preserving. I've already made strawberry jam—with mint and black pepper and with ancho chile—as well as blueberry with nutmeg, and sour cherry. Now come gooseberries, raspberries and all the stone fruits. My canning guru, Mrs. Wheelbarrow, says to make smaller batches so it's not that daunting, but I like to come away with at least 6 jars of something. I tuck them away to give as holiday gifts, when their sweet reminder of summer is so appreciated. If you need an incentive, think about stirring fresh raspberry jam into your mid-winter yogurt or serving guests a poundcake with fragrant peach preserves in February.

Maybe this weekend you'll be in front of a hot stove, too? Or perhaps putting your feet up in the screened-in porch and taking a nap? Either way, I hope you'll make time to peruse the links I've put together here. There's some fascinating stuff I wouldn't want you to miss.
Moth 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

6.28.12 Natural Selection

It's been a strange and wonderful transition from spring to summer this year, with recent nights dipping down into the 40s again. It almost feels like fall. Good for sleeping but not so good for the tomatoes, eggplant and cucumbers trying to make headway in the garden. This constitutes glorious hiking weather, the air so impossibly fresh that you are instantly energized. The woods are cool and damp, carpeted with moss and overrun with ferns so green they are almost neon. Pileated woodpeckers and yellow-bellied sapsuckers hammer away in the treetops; baby bunnies are living under our honeysuckle bushes; tiny freckled fawns gambol in the tall grass; great blue herons careen over the marsh; and at night the barred owl calls out "who-cooks-for-you? who-cooks-for-you-now?" It's pretty magical to be a creature among so many other creatures. I identified the one above as a Rosy Maple Moth (Dryocampa rubicunda). Its fuzzy orange body and lavender-tipped wings give it sort of a bridge-&-tunnel look, don't you think?
John Muir —
I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
Eldred 790 xxx
the house that change built

6.26.12 Same As It Ever Was

Much is said about change—its inevitability, its power to engender fear...and transformation. I believe that if we don't create change, change will create us. When it comes at you, you can either wrestle it like a big slippery alligator, or just do your best to ride the wave. Nine years ago, when my husband died of cancer and I was trudging through the Slough of Despond in Los Angeles, change felt like the slow flaying of my skin. Three years ago, when I left my familiar life in New York City for the wilds of Sullivan County, change was like an enormous infusion of oxygen and optimism. Life is change, and that's never more apparent than when you live close to nature and really experience the cycle of birth and death that is constantly on display. Even the simple blossoming and wilting of a flower in a single day is a reminder. Life is short, my friends, and we must not waste a moment clinging to what we have already lost. The perfection and freshness of youth is one thing, the patina and widsom of age quite another. But they are two sides of the same coin, and of equal value.
Anatole France —
All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.
Vista 790 xxx
photos by george billard & gluttonforlife

6.22.12 Portlandia!

There are things to do in Portland besides eat. It's the perfect place to stop and smell the roses, quite literally. The gardens there are full of them, overblown heirloom beauties, the more delicate wild ones, and climbing roses draped over fences and arbors. We actually saw a huge tree that had been entirely and spectacularly overtaken by one of these! If you know nothing about Portland, you can always get a quick primer from Portlandia, the IFC comedy written by and starring Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen. We didn't ask any locals what they think about this wacky and loving spoof of their hometown, but I imagine they are secretly flattered. The show even coined the indie-ubiquitous tagline "Put a bird on it!"—a reference to the way the artisanal/locavore/crafts movement seems to think everything (coasters, t-shirts, cupcakes) can be improved with an illustration of a bird. Amusing. Anyway, there's no doubt that Portland is full of freaks, and I say that with full admiration. White dreadlocks, rococo tattoos and more than the average number of people muttering to themselves, not to mention an assload of Birkenstocks and Patagonia. Shades of my own hometown, Santa Cruz, California. The people-watching is good, as is the hiking and, believe it or not, the shopping.
Henry David Thoreau —
Truths and roses have thorns about them.
Americano 790 xxx
welcome to portland!

6.20.12 PDX: R&R&R

PDX is the code for Portland International Airport, and it's ubiquitous there as a shorthand brand, sort of like Manhattanites use NYC. We went there for some R&R&R—that's rest, relaxation and restaurants. We got very little of the former and plenty of the latter. What a gorgeous place! I discovered that it's known as "The City of Roses" because its climate—warm, dry summers and wet but mild winters—is ideal for these sometimes finicky flowers. All over town we saw lush gardens overflowing with fragrant roses and other blooms, tall grasses and incredible old trees. We stayed at the Ace, a slightly more quirky and rustic version of the one we stay at in New York, and I recommend it, especially if you don't mind rickety elevators, super-casual service and a Stumptown coffee outpost in the lobby. Even better, off the other side of the lobby is Clyde Common, a sweet place that describes itself as a "European style tavern," although I'm not really sure why. It's definitely the prototypical Portland-style farm-to-table eatery. The bar, run by cocktail king Jeffrey Morgenthaler, is not to be missed. We were instantly addicted to his clever new take on the Americano—a mix of sweet vermouth, Campari and orange oil that he carbonates and bottles himself. We will be doing that at home very soon, so stay tuned.
Caramel 790 xxx
photos courtesy of new york mouth

6.13.12 Open Your Mouth

Since leaving the city to live upstate full-time, I definitely do more online shopping. I support local purveyors as much as possible but that can be limiting and, as you know, I’m spoiled. I order my olive oil from here (hey, at least it’s not coming all the way from Italy) and my raw coconut oil from here, and I compensate for that in part by growing vegetables and foraging for wild edibles. When I learned recently about New York Mouth, a new online business that specializes in “indie food” and carbon offsets its shipping, I was glad to be able to support some local resources. It’s not about being virtuous, it’s just about doing what makes sense. They have put together an amazing selection of handcrafted, small batch products and they do a great job of packaging them into clever and creative collections that make fantastic gifts.